Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Stories from March 29 edition of ST

Final journey through Singapore for Mr Lee Kuan Yew

The endless queue of visitors lining up to pay their respects to the country's founding Prime Minister was finally closed last night, setting the stage for Singapore to give Mr Lee Kuan Yew a final farewell today.

Some 1,000 Singapore Armed Forces servicemen were deployed to clear the Padang. Their task was to work through the night to dismantle 360 tents and shift 2,000 barricades so that four ceremonial 25-pounder Howitzer guns can be moved onto the Padang for a 21-gun salute.

The Padang and City Hall provide a fitting stage for the nation to give a solemn send-off to Mr Lee, who died on Monday, aged 91. READ MORE HERE

Sprinting to the Padang for a last farewell

It has been a four-day marathon that closed with a sprint.

With the queue to bid a final farewell to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew set to close at 8pm last night, hundreds of people literally ran the distance between City Hall MRT and the Padang in the minutes leading up to the cut-off.

Some slid past the start point in the nick of time, while others found themselves pleading with marshals to let them join family members in line who were just a few steps quicker. READ MORE HERE

Dignitaries pay their respects, hail Mr Lee Kuan Yew's legacies

Dignitaries singled out Singapore's corruption-free society, education system and the Government's succession planning for praise yesterday, saying these were the legacies of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

They were speaking to reporters at Parliament House, after paying their respects to Mr Lee yesterday, the last day of the lying in state.

Mr Lee, 91, died last Monday at the Singapore General Hospital, after 47 days in intensive care. READ MORE HERE

Lee Kuan Yew made the world a better place: Kissinger

Prime ministers and potentates from some two dozen nations, joined by close friends of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, gathered last night to bid a final farewell to the man who often was called upon to step in to explain Asia to a global audience confounded by its complexities.

"The world is a better place because of Lee Kuan Yew," said Dr Henry Kissinger, former United States secretary of state and Mr Lee's friend of more than four decades.

"He taught us about the way Asians think about problems and explained to us what development meant in a practical sense. But he also told us, 'We can do that much, and beyond that, somebody else has to do certain things.'" READ MORE HERE

Mr Lee Kuan Yew fostered region's ties with world: Xi

Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday credited Singapore founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew for his "outstanding contributions" to peace and development in Asia, and for fostering the region's ties with the rest of the world.

"Mr Lee Kuan Yew is a strategist and statesman who has the respect of the international society," Mr Xi said in a keynote speech at the annual Boao Forum for Asia in southern Hainan province.

"He has made outstanding contributions to peace and development in Asia, and to fostering the region's ties and cooperation with the rest of the world. READ MORE HERE

Lee Kuan Yew a true son of the soil, says Tan Cheng Bock

Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was "a true son of the soil" who was driven by his love for Singapore, former MP and presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock wrote in a Facebook post yesterday, after paying his last respects to Mr Lee at Tanjong Pagar Community Club.

In his post, Dr Tan recalled his encounters with Mr Lee, who had interviewed him to be a candidate for the 1980 General Election.

"I was only a village doctor with a rebellious streak," he said. "But one striking thing he said was, 'We are not looking for yes men.'" READ MORE HERE

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Those who made it in the nick of time

As the minutes ticked towards 8pm yesterday, Ms Lyn Eliza Wong broke into a sprint towards the Padang.

The queue for paying final respects to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was drawing to a close, and the 55-year-old was determined not to miss her chance.

As the clock struck 8pm, she ran past the start point and marshals cut the line off behind her. READ MORE HERE

Singaporeans in Hong Kong fly home to pay last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew

High demand for seats on Singapore Airlines Flight SQ865 from Hong Kong bound for Singapore last Friday night prompted the carrier to use a 409-seater Airbus A380 superjumbo instead of its usual 278-seater B777 aircraft.

Airfares from Hong Kong to Singapore on SIA and Cathay Pacific also surged three to four times because of the demand, as Singaporeans headed home to pay their last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

A ticket usually costs HK$1,700 (S$300) to HK$2,000, but fares went up to between HK$6,000 and HK$9,000 on Friday night. READ MORE HERE

Tribute events held on eve of state funeral

On the eve of the state funeral of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, groups gathered at ceremonies across the island for a common purpose: to pay tribute to Singapore's first Prime Minister.

Ministers eulogised him and Singaporeans placed flowers at his portraits as the country continued to mourn Mr Lee, who died on Monday at the age of 91.

At the Tanjong Pagar Community Club, Mr Chan Chun Sing, an MP in the Tanjong Pagar GRC, where Mr Lee served for 60 years, said that building on the solid foundation that Mr Lee laid would be a good way to honour him. READ MORE HERE

By gum, the West is wrong about Singapore

It must be nice to be Western and superior. It must be nice to judge from afar a grieving and poorly understood nation that is often confused with China. As Singapore came to terms this week with the loss of a titan, the country also came under scrutiny, a great deal of which was admiring in a back-handed way.

After Mr Lee Kuan Yew died, The Guardian devoted an entire article to his policy on chewing gum. Decades of phenomenal GDP growth, the lowest crime rate in the region and top-notch healthcare, and Westerners are still talking about the friggin' chewing gum. This is like being complimented on your English. READ MORE HERE

20 hours of visiting, and I didn't get to see Mr Lee

I was at Parliament House and the Istana for more than 20 hours last week and did not get to see Mr Lee Kuan Yew lying in state.

Then again, that is because I did not try.

I was at the tribute areas of both places, but never found the need to join the long queues to Parliament House. READ MORE HERE

Indian community lauds racial tolerance in tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Indian Singaporeans gathered to pay tribute to former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew yesterday, highlighting his steadfast belief in meritocracy and multiculturalism.

Six community leaders spoke at the event organised by self-help group Sinda and held at the P. Govindasamy Pillai Hall in Serangoon.

Ambassador-at-large Gopinath Pillai, who lived in Malaysia in the 1960s, recalled the 1969 race riots in Kuala Lumpur that proved to be "one of the most traumatic events" of his life. READ MORE HERE

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: 'Carry on forging racial harmony'

Singapore's special brand of religious and racial harmony owes much to the vision of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

And Singaporeans must now ensure that even greater understanding is forged through education and continuing dialogue between the different groups.

This was the call from religious leaders who attended yesterday's memorial service organised by the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO). READ MORE HERE

15 police reports filed over teen's online video allegedly celebrating Mr Lee Kuan Yew's death

At least 15 police reports have been made against a teenager for posting a video online allegedly celebrating Mr Lee Kuan Yew's death and criticising his political career.

Police said they are looking into the matter.

The video, called Lee Kuan Yew Is Finally Dead!, was posted on Friday and has been viewed more than 270,000 times. READ MORE HERE

Retired Gurkhas honour Mr Lee Kuan Yew

About 150 retired Gurkhas and their family members paid homage to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew in Kathmandu on Friday at a ceremony where they garlanded a portrait of Singapore's founding Prime Minister and observed a minute's silence in honour of him.

The ceremony was organised by the Singapore Gurkha Pensioners' Association, which noted Mr Lee's contributions to Singapore in a statement: "All of us - as members of the Gurkha Contingent serving in Singapore, as wives who in daily life exchanged chit-chat with Singaporeans and as school children who learnt of Lee Kuan Yew in school - know Lee Kuan Yew as the man who made Singapore the country it is today."

The Gurkhas are an elite force plucked from the foothills of Nepal to serve in foreign militaries. In Singapore, they belong to the police force's Gurkha Contingent, which was formed in 1949. READ MORE HERE

Overseas citizens prepare to watch live telecast of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's funeral

Singaporeans around the world braced themselves to watch their founding father pass into history, calling loved ones at home and arranging community gatherings to watch the live telecast of today's funeral.

The Singapore High Commission in London had never seen so many visitors at its Belgravia building as yesterday morning, when about 500 Singaporeans turned up for a memorial service for Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Many could not enter the building and had to stand outside as High Commissioner Foo Chi Hsia and six other Singaporeans living in the United Kingdom paid tribute to Mr Lee.

One of them, Ms Azra Moiz, 52, who runs her own consultancy and training company in London, spoke fondly of having found a black-and-white photograph last year of her family and her with Mr Lee and his family taken in 1964 at Mount Faber. READ MORE HERE

Malaysians yearn for a Malay version of Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Now that he's gone, Malaysians are having another look at Mr Lee Kuan Yew's legacy, and some say they want a similar version - in their own country.

Struggling with perceptions of rising corruption, and worried about rising sectarianism - such as Malay Muslim parties pushing for Islamic criminal law this month, despite protests from minorities - Malaysians are yearning for strong leadership that can take some of the tough decisions they think will solve the woes of the country.

"We need a Malay version," former law minister Zaid Ibrahim told The Sunday Times, referring to Mr Lee. "He made unpopular decisions but stuck to his principles of good governance and integrity." READ MORE HERE

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Three vital lessons in leadership

They expected him to fail. But 50 years later, while we remember the man Harry Lee Kuan Yew, who transformed Singapore from a British colonial outpost into a prosperous, global city-state, we must not overlook some of his key lessons in leadership.

After separation from Malaysia, the future of Singapore looked bleak. Mr Lee inherited a toxic mix of racial unrest, an unemployment rate of 30 per cent, domestic instability and economic uncertainty. Singapore could have followed the path of some of its neighbours: increasing nationalist rhetoric, racial division, economic instability, communist insurgency and continued unrest. Mr Lee could have followed the path of Mr Sukarno, Mr Ferdinand Marcos or even Mr Ngo Dinh Diem.

Mr Lee concluded otherwise. READ MORE HERE

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: An astute observer who could make things happen

One of the abiding memories former US diplomat Jeffrey Bader has of Mr Lee Kuan Yew is a 1997 meeting in Singapore where the then Senior Minister captivated the Americans, including Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

"I remember on the way out, she was dazzled," said Dr Bader. "She was dazzled by the strategic narrative, the adroitness and deftness of what she heard about China."

To top it off, Mr Lee had the answer to a question the US officials had been grappling with. READ MORE HERE

The Singapore that Lee Kuan Yew built

''Once in a long while in the history of a people there comes a moment of great change.''

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's victory speech in 1959, after being elected Singapore's first Prime Minister, foretold the transformation of the country from a tiny slum-ridden trading post into a global metropolis by the time he stepped down in 1990.

The Sunday Times looks at how Mr Lee and his team changed the destiny of Singapore and Singaporeans.


My father and our founding father

When I was growing up, God, my father and Lee Kuan Yew all merged into one.

I was the youngest child in a Teochew-speaking, working-class Chinese household. My parents were immigrants from China, who ran a hawker stall for much of my formative years.

My father was a stern patriarch who was not averse to using the cane. My mother was a traditional Chinese wife and self-sacrificing mother, with a twinkling sense of humour with those close to her. She tended to our household altar, placing platters of food there on religious or festive days. She prayed to the deity who I found out years later is supposed to be the Kitchen God, assigned by the Emperor of Heaven to report on a family's doings. The offerings were meant to placate the deity and sweeten his tongue when he delivered reports. READ MORE HERE

Housing: The wonder of taps, the fear of lifts

When Madam Hiap Cheng Lay moved into a Housing Board rental flat in 1972, she felt a mixture of excitement and fear.

The mother of two young boys was eager to leave the attap house she had been sharing with another family.

However, there was just one problem: Her new home was on the 10th storey. READ MORE HERE

Women's Education: When doors to equality opened

Madam Er Teck Gin, 67, was a woman born at the right time.

Her older sister stayed at home in the 1950s while her brothers went to school, as was the norm at the time.

But when Madam Er reached school-going age, a man named Lee Kuan Yew emerged as the leader of the fledgling nation, then still seeking its independence from the British. He called on families to send their children - both boys and girls - to school, to forge the foundation of an educated and effective workforce. READ MORE HERE

Critical Battles: Letting go of past, but not forgetting it

Author and cartoonist Otto Fong did not join the thousands of Singaporeans standing in line for hours to pay their last respects to Singapore founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

"When I was a kid, my dad was banned from entering Singapore. I had to live in Malaysia and study in Singapore so I stood in line at the Customs for 10 years, back and forth daily," he wrote in a Facebook post last week.

"I think I've done enough queueing for Lee Kuan Yew." READ MORE HERE

Clean & Green City: The seed project that took root

When you visit Orchard Road these days, you can enjoy a brush with a butterfly along with your shopping. A 4km Butterfly Trail starts at the gates of the Botanic Gardens, continues down the premier shopping belt and ends at Fort Canning Park.

It was Mr Lee Kuan Yew's go-green campaign in 1963 - when he planted a tree at Farrer Circus - that started what was to become the City in a Garden concept which flourishes today.

Decades after Mr Lee planted that first tree, a young Indian who arrived to study here was so inspired by Singapore's rich fauna and flora that he went on to eventually work for the Nature Society, with a particular interest in butterflies and conservation. READ MORE HERE

Going Regional: Pushing Singapore firms to expand overseas

It took a trade mission led by then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew to turn Dr Robert Yap's company from local to global.

Such missions were "new and few" in 1993.

Dr Yap, executive chairman of logistics giant YCH, was head of a homegrown company that had just made its first foray out of Singapore with a warehouse in Penang. READ MORE HERE

Clean Water: The big upgrade from wells to taps

When retired accounts clerk Ow Yong Weng Kok, now 72, was a teenager in the early 1960s, he lived in a kampung in Kim Keat.

The only source of fresh water was a well in a village a kilometre away - and Mr Ow Yong walked there and back every day. On the return trip he carried two full buckets of water on a pole balanced on his shoulders.

Mr Ow Yong's 39-year-old son, Chark Kan, said: "The roads were very muddy and there weren't any street lamps. He was literally walking in darkness." Mr Ow Yong had recounted his tough childhood last week to him, after the death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. READ MORE HERE

Meritocracy: Poor boy grows up to be StarHub boss

Growing up, Mr Tan Tong Hai and his five siblings lived in a one-room rental flat in Redhill with their parents.

The home was bare, furnished with just a table and some chairs. They could not afford a TV set.

A typical meal was rice with black soya sauce. His clothes and school books were hand-me- downs from a neighbour or his brother. READ MORE HERE

Law & Order: Glad gangsterism was curtailed

As a teenager in the 1950s, Mr S. Rajagopal was struck by the forceful speeches of the politician who would eventually become Singapore's first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Listening to them, "you knew that in his mind the safety of the people was paramount because gangsterism (then) was rife", said Mr Rajagopal, who is now 75 and honorary treasurer of the Singapore Police Retirees' Association.

Around the same time, communist activity was reaching a peak. READ MORE HERE

Bilingualism: From hard slog to rewarding career

Up till her Secondary One year, Ms Wong Lee Jeng's school was a public Chinese-language institution. Then, overnight, all the textbooks - except those in the Chinese language - were changed into English.

This was in 1981, at the former Seh Chuan High School. It was the transitional period when the Education Ministry was developing national schools with English as the language of instruction.

It was the brainchild of then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, an advocate of bilingualism which was introduced in the late 1970s. The thinking behind it was that English would connect Singaporeans to the world and give all races an equal chance while knowing their mother tongue would keep them in touch with their culture. READ MORE HERE

Racial Equality: Meritocratic system gives everyone a chance

When she was a primary school pupil, Ms Nadrah Sadali would often go down at night to the void deck of her family's Housing Board flat to study.

She did so because her family could hardly afford to pay their electricity bills.

Her mother would also go to Beach Road to buy second-hand textbooks for Ms Nadrah and her five brothers. READ MORE HERE

National Service: Father, son and nation's defence

The father is the longest-serving staff member in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). The son worked as a medical officer in the RSAF. Neither knew, as young men, how meaningful they would find the experience.

Fate, and Mr Lee Kuan Yew, intervened.

Back in 1967, 19-year-old Prasad Kumar Menon had set his sights on getting a law degree at the University of Singapore, when the British announced they were withdrawing their military presence from Singapore by 1971. READ MORE HERE

Hawker Centres: Dad gained a livelihood and raised a family

Growing up, Ms Thian Hwee Keong used to sit by the Geylang River and watch as her father roasted coffee beans in a huge bronze drum.

An itinerant hawker, her late father Thian Oayin Mui was known around the Kallang area in the 1960s for his coffee beans, which he painstakingly selected and processed.

This meant that large gunny sacks of green coffee beans were a constant fixture in the living room of the family's two-room rental flat in Dakota Crescent, she said. READ MORE HERE

The unique blessing for Singapore that is Mr Lee Kuan Yew

As the daily throngs of Singaporeans of all races and ages paid their last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew last week, I found myself counting the ways we've been blessed in Mr Lee's Singapore.

The most profound is a blessing I share with so many Singaporeans: In our personal lives, and not just as a country, we each went from Third World to First in a single generation.

In my case, I went from a rented, wooden shophouse with communal toilets in Kampong Kembangan to a three-room HDB flat in Chai Chee, then a five-room flat in Bedok South, a Pine Grove HUDC flat and now a landed property in Upper Thomson. READ MORE HERE

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: 'I did my best'

Four thirty on a Saturday afternoon and the Istana is quiet, save for the steady, sleepy sound of cicadas snuggled deep in the trees on the sloping lawns.

The Istana, Malay for "palace", stands on what was once part of a massive nutmeg estate belonging to a British merchant named Charles Robert Prinsep.

In 1867, Governor Harry Ord, who was in charge of Singapore from 1867 to 1873, acquired the land and built Government House on it. READ MORE HERE

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: The trusted photographer, George Gascon

He did not crowd a room, bark instructions or prance around.

And because he knew how to observe without intruding, Mr George Gascon earned the privilege of gaining access to a man known for being exacting in all his affairs, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

For seven years, as a photographer with The Straits Times, Mr Gascon recorded Mr Lee for posterity. READ MORE HERE

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